The less some Americans know, the more strident and voluble they
become. Take socialism. The wailing about it over healthcare reform
proves my proposition.
Shrill critics menacingly brandish "socialism" to terrify the
unthinking, forgetting - or willfully ignoring - that while the
United States is capitalist, it's also hip deep in various modes of
Republicans apparently don't know that it was their beloved
President Theodore Roosevelt who in 1912 proposed national health
insurance for all.
Some American critics of socialized medicine cite nightmarish
accounts of bungled medical treatment abroad, boasting that America
has the best medical system in the world.
As a foreign correspondent, I lived in Britain, Germany, Israel,
and the Soviet Union and did not discover any sapping of a nation's
vital essences because the public enjoyed publicly funded national
As a US citizen who lived more than two decades abroad, I found
socialized national health insurance programs are often more
compassionate and charitable than what I have seen with profit-
driven, private insurance companies in the United States.
Some years ago my former wife took my sons on a driving tour of
Britain and became involved in an accident. My elder son had a badly
broken leg and was taken to a hospital for six weeks until his leg
healed. Although I didn't live in Britain at the time, the British
National Insurance system paid all his hospital and doctor bills.
When I offered to reimburse the hospital, the British charitably
declined and only charged me $35 for a crutch my son used to hobble
aboard a plane home to America.
A decade ago, a federal report shocked the nation by suggesting
that our modern medical system was one of the leading causes of
death in America. It called for cutting the rates of medical
mistakes in half within five years. But it's only gotten worse.
Today, preventable medical injuries kill some 200,000 Americans each
Earlier this year, a friend entered a suburban Chicago hospital
to have a gall bladder removed. The surgeon was scheduled to go on
vacation immediately after finishing the operation. In the process
of making a large incision, the doctor unknowingly nicked the lower
intestine and punctured the aorta. My friend nearly bled to death
before the surgeon discovered his error.
Where is the statistical evidence that private healthcare
outperforms national health insurance programs? The United States
ranks 37th on health outcomes, according to the World Health
Organization, and it has one of the highest infant mortality rates
among developed countries, suggesting that socialized medicine may
afford better patient care in some situations. …